MS applies for $98M in federal funds for schools - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MS applies for $98M in federal funds for schools

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) -

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - The State of Mississippi will apply for $98 million for school districts from the recent education stimulus bill passed by Congress. Gov. Haley Barbour delivered that message Thursday in letters to legislators, superintendents and school board members.

The Governor's Office has been assured by federal officials that Mississippi meets the requirements allowing states to access the funds. Initially, it appeared the state would be forced to shift money from other departments to qualify.

"Although I would have voted against this legislation were I in Congress, I intend to apply for the approximately $98 million in funding for K-12 education," Gov. Barbour wrote to legislators. "Our taxpayers, and their children and grandchildren are on the hook for the debt resulting from this federal spending, and it does not require us to raise taxes or make other negative policy changes, so I believe Mississippians should receive the extra funds for education purposes."

The U.S. Department of Education requires the money be spent by September 2012, which allows districts to reserve the money for the next school year. With the loss of stimulus funds and projected increases in education and debt service, Mississippi potentially faces a $1 billion shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012.

"FY 12 is poised to be the most difficult budgetary year our state has had in recent memory," Gov. Barbour wrote. "Because of decreased revenue and the loss of some federal stimulus funds, this year's budget already includes many sharp reductions in spending. FY 12 will require even deeper cuts."

In a separate letter to school officials, Gov. Barbour urged districts to reserve the funds for FY 2012.

"I urge you as superintendents of our schools and members of local school boards to utilize the $98 million of additional funds you will receive under this legislation next year in school year 2011-12 rather than this school year. FY 12 will be the toughest budget year we will face," Gov. Barbour wrote to school superintendents and board members.

"Given that you have already finalized your school year budgets, contracts are in place, and you have identified funding sources to fund the executed budgets, please save these unexpected funds for the extremely difficult budget year in FY 12."

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